Marian Miner Cook

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Tuesday, April 09, 2019 - Evening Program
Reflections on Work, Servitude, and Slavery in Medieval India
Donald Davis, Jr.

Donald Davis, professor in the department of Asian Studies at the University of Texas, Austin, examines how a thirteenth-century Sanskrit legal text conceptualizes slavery, servitude, and work. Rather than draw a sharp distinction between slaves and workers, this text views everyone from slaves and contract laborers to students, apprentices, and even managers as servants with limited freedom. The way this text categorizes the world of work provokes us to rethink whether contemporary discourses have surpassed or merely suppressed continuing experiences of work as a loss of freedom.

Donald Davis has been teaching at U.T. Austin since 2013, having worked previously at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Michigan, and Bucknell University. His primary research concerns the interaction of law and religion in medieval India. From one side, he looks at the historical evidence for law and legal practice in inscriptions, temple archives, and other dated documents as a way to contextualize the law in earlier periods of Indian history. From the other side, he studies the Dharmaśāstra tradition as a system of religious law and jurisprudence, apart from historical questions.

His book, “The Spirit of Hindu Law” (2010), provides a conceptual overview of the Hindu perspective on law and how it can relate to modern questions of policy, ethics, and religion. He has a continuing interest in Malayalam language and literature, and published “The Train that Had Wings” (2005), a collection of translated short stories by the Malayalam writer M. Mukundan. 

Most recently, Davis published “The Dharma of Business: Commercial Law in Medieval India”  (Penguin, 2017), a study of commerce-related titles of law in medieval Hindu law texts and is a co-editor (with Patrick Olivelle) of a volume for the Oxford History of Hinduism entitled “Hindu Law: A New History of Dharmaśāstra” (OUP, 2018). 

His current research broadens his interest in the practice of Hindu law in historical perspective, using materials beyond the Dharmaśāstra texts and from many parts of medieval India. At the same time, he is beginning work on a translation of the Mitākṣarā of Vijñāneśvara, a twelfth-century commentary and compendium on dharma.

(Parents Dining Room)

Tuesday, April 09, 2019 - Evening Program
Beyond the 'Now:' Epistemic Oppression and the So-Called "Common Sense" of Incarceration
Kristie Lynn Dotson

Kristie Dotson, professor of philosophy at both Carleton College and Michigan State University, will explore how in situations that call for accountability for serious wrongdoings, one can find oneself trapped in a “now” that follows from ineffective carceral imaginations, insufficient structural options for accountability, and inadequate lexicons of permissibility.

Kristie Dotson is currently the Cowling Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Carleton College and associate professor of philosophy at Michigan State University. She researches in epistemology, metaphilosophy, and feminist philosophy (particularly Black feminisms). Specifically, Dotson works on how knowledge-related concerns play a role in maintaining and obscuring oppression. She has published numerous journals articles and is working currently on a monograph tentatively entitled, Varieties of Epistemic Oppression, which is under contract with Oxford University Press.